'Freedom For the Children' March Postponed by Utah AG Over QAnon Ties

A Utah rally scheduled for Saturday was postponed by the state's Attorney General's office on Friday after the group's ties to the QAnon conspiracy theory were uncovered.

The Arizona anti-child trafficking group Freedom for the Children scheduled a number of rallies across the United States for Saturday, including one in Salt Lake City's Liberty Park. The event was initially promoted by the Attorney General's office's Twitter account.

"Join us in raising awareness for human trafficking and child exploitation tomorrow at 9AM at Liberty Park in SLC. Our office will join speakers in highlighting trauma-informed recovery, legislation, law enforcement roles, resources, and stories from survivors," the office wrote, along with a flyer for the event.

The office later clarified that the event was not related to the anti-child trafficking group Save the Children, which was also hosting a number of events that day, according to KUTV. A few hours after the clarification tweet, the office announced that the Freedom for the Children march had been postponed "due to questions about association with other human trafficking events being held the same day."

The official announcement said that the event was postponed due to "receiving further information, including careful investigation of citizen input, event organizers determined that there were too many questions about one of the partners," and that delaying the event "would prevent public confusion with unassociated agendas and political causes."

Though the announcement was vague on the details of what "unassociated agendas," or the identity of the partner in question, according to KJZZ, the rally was postponed over information uncovered in an NBC News investigation that linked Freedom for the Children to the QAnon conspiracy theory. The local political blog UtahPolicy.com raised questions about the group's legitimacy to the Utah Attorney General's office.

Freedom for the Children was not the only sponsor of the event. Other anti-trafficking groups involved included the 3Strands Global Foundation, which has no ties to QAnon.

Though there is no mention of QAnon on the official Freedom for the Children's website or social media, KJZZ reported that one founder of the group, Bhairavi Shera, made Instagram posts that included the #PizzagateIsReal hashtag. Pizzagate is a pre-QAnon conspiracy theory that alleged a child sex ring was being operated out of the basement of a Washington, D.C. pizza restaurant. The restaurant, Comet Ping Pong, has no basement.

Conspiracy theorist QAnon demonstrators protest child trafficking on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, California, August 22, 2020. A 2019 bulletin from the FBI warned that conspiracy theory-driven extremists are a domestic terrorism threat. Kyle Grillot/AFP/Getty

The QAnon conspiracy theory grew out of Pizzagate. A person or person known only as "Q" is at the center of QAnon. Q claims to be an insider in the administration of President Donald Trump, and shares cryptic posts to anonymous message boards like 4Chan and 8Chan. The posts are mostly about Trump's alleged secret efforts to stop a cabal of cannibalistic Satanic pedophiles. The cabal is said to include political figures like Hillary Clinton—herself the main target of Pizzagate—as well as Hollywood figures like Tom Hanks, Ellen DeGeneres and Chrissy Teigen.

At Wednesday's press briefing, Trump responded to the QAnon theory, telling reporters that he didn't "know much about the movement, other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate."

"If I can help save the world from problems, I'm willing to put myself out there," Trump added. "And we are, actually, we are saving the world from the radical left philosophy that will destroy this country."

Fourteen congressional candidates have expressed support for QAnon. That list included Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia businesswoman. Green has called Q "a patriot."

"He is someone that very much loves his country, and he's on the same page as us, and he is very pro-Trump," Greene said. "Now there's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles out, and I think we have the president to do it."

Greene is expected to win her seat in her heavily Republican district in November. She defeated her Republican opponent John Cowan in a runoff election on August 11 by 15 points.